New year? Check. New theme? Check.

Over the New Year break, I decided it was time for a change here on the Algorithms for the Masses blog. Not necessarily a full-blown New Year Resolution, more a general feeling that the current theme was old in the tooth, had accumulated a whole bunch of cruft (and how!), and it was time to chuck it in the bin of history. Time for something clean, and, horror, responsive.

Having made the decision, it was time to go check out the themes on offer out there in the big wide world. ThemeForest is great for this and, since they have full themes on offer for a few tens of dollars, I could spend my time tweaking my templates to suit a new theme rather than painstakingly (or, rather, painfully) designing my own. After a long session of looking at the various themes on offer, trying to concentrate on those that cater for a “simple” blog (there would be no chance of finding anything for GraffitiCMS, the open-sourced backend I use), I found one called Basic (funnily enough) and plonked down my $15 for it.

Over the past weekend, it was time to do the template-tweaking work, and let me tell you the hardest part was setting up a test environment on my local laptop. First step was making a backup of the SQL Server instance I use for the blog, and then restoring it to a local copy. That was no problem. The hardest part – and I don’t know why I have such difficulties every time – was setting up IIS to point to a copy of my blog on a local drive, and then fiddling with the permissions to make it access the database. And then fiddling with the permissions so I didn’t get a Yellow Screen of Death. And then fiddling with the permissions some more so that the home page was rendered. And then fiddling with yet more sodding permissions so that I could edit the files. GAH.

Despite all this permission mongering, I eventually got to the point where I could edit templates, CSS, and JavaScript so that the blog would look good. I created a simple “logo” for the site as well. In doing all this I got rid of the two major pieces of cruft I’d added over the years: the old hamburger icon that used to slide in a panel from the left, and the sticky title for individual posts. Gone. Totally incapable of being responsive. So, good riddance.

Finally after a day’s worth of thinking, tweaking, testing, yesterday, the site was ready to go live, so I flipped the theme from the old to the new in the admin panel. There are a couple of pages I still want to update, but everything works from the search panel, to the archives, to the category and tag summary lists, to the 404 page. I have to say I like the new clean look.

Construction zone

Album cover for The Dream of the Blue TurtlesNow playing:
Sting - We Work the Black Seam
(from The Dream of the Blue Turtles)

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